Wildlife

In Nevada, federal wildlife officials have brokered a landmark conservation deal with a gold mining company that the government says could help protect thousands of acres of critical habitat for the greater sage grouse.

U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened for comment a proposed plan to change the status of a herd of caribou in northern Idaho and northeastern Washington from endangered to threatened.

The agency on Tuesday opened the 30-day comment period based on new information.

The agency made the initial proposal last May after deciding to lump the small herd into the Southern Mountain Caribou population that has another 14 herds in Canada.

But Canadian officials recently determined those herds are faltering and should also be listed as endangered.

Flickr Creative Commons

Visitors to Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area are being cautioned that bears are out of hibernation and are hungry after their long rest.

Park officials are asking visitors to make noise and travel in groups of three or more. They should carry bear spray and know how to use it and always stay at least 100 yards from bears.

Typically, about half of adult male bears are out of their dens by mid-March, and females with their yearlings emerge shortly after that.

Terry R. Thomas / naturetrack.com

If you Google "snow geese" here are some of the headlines you'll find right now...

  • “Thousands of Snow Geese Fall Dead From Sky in Idaho” - Yahoo News
  • “2,000 Snow Geese Drop Dead From the Sky in Idaho” CNN
  • “2,000 Snow Geese Fall Dead ‘Out of the Sky’ in Idaho” – USA Today
  • “Basically, They Just Fell Out of the Sky’: 2,000 Snow Geese Found Dead in Idaho” – Washington Post
Tony Cyphert / Flickr Creative Commons

The population of trumpeter swans that winters in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana was 26 percent larger this year than last year. This continues the dramatic comeback of a species that nearly disappeared from the lower 48 states due to hunting.

Jeff Knetter, the top migratory bird specialist at Idaho’s Fish and Game Department, says in 1968 there were fewer than 900 trumpeter swans in the Yellowstone area. And that was the last place they could be found outside Alaska and Canada.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

About 750 acres in northern Idaho that's habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife has been preserved through a federal grant purchase.

The Spokesman-Review reports that a family last month sold the development rights to the land along the Kootenai River north of Bonners Ferry for $798,000.

The grant money through the federal Forest Legacy Program is intended to protect habitat for wildlife while also providing recreation for visitors and allowing logging to continue.

Dan Stahler / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

Trappers killed 77 gray wolves in Montana during the 2014-2015 season that ended over the weekend.

That's down from the previous trapping season, when 87 wolves were killed.

To date, a total of 204 wolves have been killed by hunters and trappers this winter. Montana's rifle hunting season for the animals ends March 15.

Idaho hunters and trappers have killed 205 wolves, as of Feb. 25.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

Spending on a government-sponsored initiative to help struggling sage grouse populations in the West is projected to exceed $750 million by 2018.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday the money will conserve an estimated 8 million acres of sage grouse habitat. Federal officials are more than halfway to that goal since starting the Sage Grouse Initiative in 2010.

The chicken-sized birds are found in 11 Western states. They're being considered for federal protections after their numbers plummeted in recent decades.

John Carrel / Flickr Creative Commons

Warmer-than-normal winter temperatures may be to blame for bringing a grizzly bear out of hibernation early in Yellowstone National Park. The park confirmed a report of a grizzly eating a bison carcass on Feb. 9 in the central part of the park in Wyoming.

Jim Peaco | Yellowstone National Park / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of pro-wildlife organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday against two federal agencies over animal control operations in Idaho. The suit names the USDA’s APHIS Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The court filing alleges:

USDA and Iowa State University

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the avian influenza found in a flock of chickens in Parma last month, came to Idaho from Southeast Asia.

USFWS Mountain-Prairie / Flickr Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Yellowstone National Park to allow public access to an area near Gardiner where captured wild bison are being held for slaughter.

An attorney for the ACLU said in a Friday letter to Yellowstone Administrator Dan Wenk that the closure of the Stephens Creek facility and surrounding areas of the park violates the public's right to observe the capture activities.

The civil liberties group represents wildlife advocates from the Buffalo Field Campaign and freelance journalist Christopher Ketcham.

Thirty-one wolves were killed in the first six months of Idaho’s new Wolf Depredation Control Board.

Matt Woodard / Trout Unlimited

A unique group of conservationists, ranchers and miners was recently awarded a $430,000 federal grant to continue rehabilitation of a native Idaho trout. 

The project began in 2011, when the Yellowstone cutthroat trout was in decline on the Upper Blackfoot River in southeast Idaho. The native fish were getting caught in shallow ditches created by old irrigation systems used by area ranchers. The land sat on two tributaries of the Upper Blackfoot.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

This story was updated Jan. 23, 2015.

Idaho biologists say the number of wolves is likely declining, but their count of breeding pairs of wolves -- a key number used to measure the health of the state’s wolf population -- has actually gone up.

Initial estimates suggested the number of breeding pairs could be as low as 15. But Idaho Fish & Game biologist Jim Hayden said that they have been able to confirm at least 22 breeding pairs, up two from last year’s count.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to remove Western juniper from a 1.5 million-acre area of public land in southwest Idaho to conserve sage grouse habitat.

BLM Boise District Manager Jim Fincher in a statement Friday says conserving habitat for sage grouse is a key method for improving an entire rangeland ecosystem.

The agency is hosting two public meetings to provide information about the plan in Owyhee County. The first is in Boise on Feb. 4 and the second in Murphy on Feb. 5.

Comments can also be sent to the agency by Feb. 20.

Idaho Fish and Game

More than 60 years ago, Idaho Fish and Game dropped beavers out of a plane and parachuted them into the state's backcountry. This little-known piece of Idaho history stars a crafty Fish and Game officer and a plucky male beaver named Geronimo.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

A Boise State University professor will help decide the future of fire management on greater sage grouse habitat.

Political science and public policy professor John Freemuth is part of a national group of experts who will report to the new Rangeland Fire Task Force. This week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell created the task force.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Hunters participating in a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in east-central Idaho killed 30 coyotes but no wolves.

Idaho for Wildlife's Steve Alder says the Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous that ran Friday through Sunday near Salmon drew less than 100 hunters, down slightly from last year.

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck about 60 miles to the north of Salmon on Saturday and was followed by aftershocks on Sunday.

Dan Stahler / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

A hunting derby, with top prizes for wolves and coyotes, is underway in Salmon. It’s the second year in a row for the controversial event.

The group Idaho for Wildlife is handing out a $1,000 each for the most wolves and the most coyotes killed.

A year ago, more than 230 hunters converged near Salmon for the derby. No wolves were shot, and 21 coyotes were killed. Last year, the Humane Society of the United States issued one of the strongest rebukes of the event. It called the contest a “wolf massacre” and labeled organizers as “ruthless.”

Pages